At CareWell Services, we value independence so much it is in our mission: Promoting health, independence, and choice. Independence is something that most of us long for, especially as we age. As our abilities change, it’s important to consider what changes we can make to maintain our independence while also seeking help where needed.
One area you may not think about in relation to independence is social engagement. Maintaining social connections helps us age successfully and maintain our sense of identity and independence. It can get tricky as we age, especially when dealing with a health condition that limits mobility. The pandemic certainly hasn’t helped either.
I remember as my mom battled cancer, the weaker her body became, the less she was able to maintain social engagement outside of the home. At that point, more people came to visit her at her home. Other than going to the doctor, Mom was pretty much homebound at that point. While she had less socialization due to lack of mobility and transportation, those who visited her did help her maintain social engagement.
Now, with fluctuating COVID cases and resulting safety guidelines, it can be difficult to maintain our social connections. However, many of us have found technology to be helpful with this. Not only can we speak to our loved ones on the phone, but we can also see them through video calls as well! I encourage you to keep up these connections, even if it means learning a new way to communicate, because it will raise your spirits.
Not only do we have to learn new ways to communicate, but we may have to learn new ways to approach everyday tasks or activities we enjoy.
My mom enjoyed doing the laundry (a trait I did NOT inherit). While she no longer had the strength to lift the basket of clothes and get the laundry loaded into the washer or dryer, she could still fold the clothes and she enjoyed doing it. I would take the basket to her fresh out of the dryer and she folded them. I then carried the clean clothes into her room and she put them away neatly in her dresser or hung up items in her closet. This was a new approach for both her and I, but it helped her maintain her independence and stay involved in a task she enjoyed doing, while still providing assistance in the areas she needed.
It can be difficult to adjust to our changing abilities and experience that feeling of loss of independence. But if we adopt the mindset of lifelong learning, we can re-learn new ways to approach our daily life and activities that still allows us to maintain our identity and independence while staying safe and supported.